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Artephius 12th c. Artephius was among the most respected of medieval alchemists. His disciples attempted to prove that he was Apollonius of Tyana. Scholars disagree over whether he was an Arab or a Jew; some have identified him with the Arab poet and alchemist, al-Tughrai, who was executed sometime between and Artephius wrote three works on alchemy.

According to the method, a wooden table is prepared that is pierced with holes to receive the rays of the sun and the moon.

Three vases are placed on it: an earthenware vase containing oil of myrrh; a green earthenware vase containing wine; and a white earthenware vase containing water. Substitutions of copper and glass vases may be made for the second and third vases, respectively. A lighted candle is placed by each vase. The diviner also has three tools: a poplar wand half stripped of its bark; a knife; and a pumpkin root. By the earthenware vase the past is known, by the copper vase the present, and by the glass vase the future.

He Artephius arranges them in yet another fashion; that is to say, in place of the earthenware vase a silver vase full of wine is set, and the copper one is filled with oil, and the glass with water. Then you will see present things in the earthen vase, past things in the copper, and future things in the silver. All must be shielded from the sun; and the weather must be very calm, and must have been so far for at least three days.

By day you will work in sunny weather, and by night in the moonlight and by the light of the stars. The work must be done in a place far from any noise, and all must be in deep silence. The operator is to be garbed all in white, and his head and face covered with a piece of red silken stuff or fi ne linen, so that nothing may be visible but the eyes. In the water the shadow of the thing is seen, in the oil the appearance of the person, and in the wine the very thing itself; and there is the end of this invention.

According to an anonymous manuscript: By the earthenware vase the past is known, by the copper vase the present, and by the glass vase the future. Further Reading: Grillot de Givry, Emile. Witchcraft, Magic and Alchemy. New York: Houghton Mifflin, Patai, Raphael. The Jewish Alchemists. Princeton, N. Back to Alchemists.


Weiser Antiquarian

Artephius or Artefius c. Although the roots of the texts are unclear and the identity of their author obscure, at least some of them are Arabic in origin. He is named as the author of several books, the Ars sintrillia , Clavis sapientiae or Clavis maioris sapientiae , and Liber secretus. Alchemical pseudepigraphy makes it difficult to identify who the historical Artephius may have been. His identity remains an open question.


Artefii Arabis Philosophi Liber secretus




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